Staff Cuts, but ASU Cops get Shiny New Cars

Watching Adams Commentary – 11/9/15

When staff at Adams State University (ASU) leave, they are not being replaced because they are told ASU’s precarious financial situation prevents it. This excuse has been used for years to impose a sinking-lid staffing policy in various departments. Yet ASU campus police seem to continue their expansion in the name of “campus safety.”

The most recent instance of the reduced staffing is the non-replacement of the Technology Librarian who, like many former ASU employees, left for more competitive employment elsewhere. Yet despite its cries of destitution, ASU has just managed to upgrade the campus police vehicle fleet.

While the ASU News for You article doesn’t say how much the upgrade cost, an estimate of a late-model 4WD patrol car with all the law enforcement trimmings might be about $30,000. From the photograph accompanying the announcement, it appears that campus cops have at least four vehicles. So, can we assume that the upgrade cost about $120,000? That’s the equivalent of three years’ salary for an ASU librarian, or a professor.

The excuse for the upgrade is that the fleet was aging and had high mileage. But given the small size of their precinct – the ASU campus – it begs the question: why do campus police vehicles have such high mileage? Further, why the need for so many vehicles? Which leads to the next logical question: why does the university spend so much on its own police force – in times of fiscal downturn – when the Alamosa Police are within three minutes of campus?

Anyone can test this. Start at the Alamosa Police parking lot adjacent to the Alamosa Public Library, drive past the Post Office, turn right onto State, then left onto First St and pull up by McDaniel Hall. It will take about three minutes, traveling at the speed limit. Of course police would do that with flashing lights and sirens blaring, and without civilian speed restrictions. So aren’t Alamosa Police but two minutes away?

In light of ongoing fiscal deficits, perhaps it’s time to rethink the economics and efficacy of an on-campus police force.